Grief Support: After-Death Counselling in Indian Society


By Amit Singh Kushwaha

The process of grieving and coping with the loss of a loved one is a challenging journey that individuals and families face in every society. In Indian society, where strong familial bonds and rituals surround death, the need for after-death counselling is crucial. This article explores the significance of after-death counselling, the support services available in India, and the positive impact it can have on the families of the deceased.

After-death counselling is an essential aspect of bereavement care that focuses on providing emotional, psychological, and practical support to individuals and families after the loss of a loved one. In Indian society, where death rituals and customs are deeply ingrained, grief can be a complex and overwhelming experience. After-death counselling helps individuals navigate through the grieving process, offering a safe space to express emotions, understand the stages of grief, and learn coping mechanisms.

One crucial aspect of after-death counselling is addressing the cultural and religious specificities associated with death in India. With diverse religious beliefs and rituals, counsellors play a vital role in sensitively guiding families through the mourning period while respecting their cultural practices.

In recent years, India has recognized the need for after-death counselling and has witnessed the development of various support services to address this requirement. Organizations such as hospices, counselling centres, and NGOs have emerged to provide grief counselling and bereavement support.

Hospices have become important institutions that offer comprehensive care to patients at the end of life as well as grief counselling for their families after the death. These facilities provide a holistic approach to bereavement care, focusing on emotional support, therapy, and practical assistance.

Counselling centres dedicated to grief and bereavement have also emerged across India. These centres employ trained professionals who specialize in providing after-death counselling to individuals and families. They offer individual counselling sessions, support groups, and workshops to help bereaved individuals cope with their loss.

Furthermore, several NGOs have stepped forward to address the need for after-death support in Indian society. These organizations focus on creating awareness, offering counselling services, and conducting workshops on grief and bereavement. They work in collaboration with medical institutions, community centres, and religious organizations to reach out to grieving individuals and provide the necessary support.

After-death counselling has shown to have a positive impact on the families of the deceased in Indian society. Firstly, it helps individuals navigate through the grieving process by providing a supportive environment where they can express their emotions without judgment. It assists in normalizing grief and allows individuals to understand that their emotions are valid and part of the healing journey.

Secondly, after-death counselling equips families with coping mechanisms to manage their grief effectively. It helps them develop strategies to deal with the practical challenges that arise after the death of a loved one, such as legal procedures, financial matters, and adjusting to changes in family dynamics. Such support empowers families to face these challenges with resilience and a sense of control.

Moreover, after-death counselling plays a vital role in reducing the risk of prolonged grief and mental health issues among bereaved individuals. It provides a space for processing unresolved emotions and offers therapeutic interventions to address complicated grief, depression, anxiety, and other psychological difficulties that may arise after a loss.

Role of Society in After-Death Counselling:

Society plays a crucial role in understanding and supporting the importance of after-death counselling in Indian society. Here are some key aspects of society’s involvement:

  1. Awareness and Education:

Society plays a vital role in creating awareness about the availability and significance of after-death counselling services. By promoting understanding of grief and the benefits of counselling, society can encourage individuals and families to seek help when faced with loss. Education programs, community initiatives, and media campaigns can contribute to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health support after a death.

  1. Destigmatizing Grief:

Grief is a natural response to loss, yet society often expects individuals to suppress their emotions and quickly return to their regular routines. By normalizing the grieving process, society can help create an environment where seeking after-death counselling is seen as a healthy and necessary step. Compassionate conversations, supportive social networks, and cultural acceptance of grief can contribute to destigmatizing the need for counseling.

  1. Cultural Sensitivity:

In a diverse society like India, where customs and religious practices differ significantly, society plays a vital role in promoting cultural sensitivity within the context of after-death counselling. Recognizing and respecting the various rituals, beliefs, and mourning practices of different communities can help ensure that counselling services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each family.

  1. Community Support:

The support and involvement of the community are crucial in assisting grieving individuals and families. Community organizations, religious institutions, and social networks can provide a sense of belonging, practical assistance, and emotional support during the grieving process. By fostering an environment of compassion and understanding, society can contribute to the overall well-being of bereaved individuals.

  1. Advocacy and Policy:

Society can play a role in advocating for policies and initiatives that support after-death counselling services. By highlighting the importance of mental health support after a loss, society can contribute to the allocation of resources, funding, and the integration of bereavement care into the healthcare system. Active engagement with policymakers and organizations can help shape policies that recognize and prioritize the needs of grieving individuals and families.

In Indian society, the importance and need for after-death counselling are becoming increasingly recognized. The availability of support services, such as hospices, counselling centres, and NGOs, has significantly contributed to providing necessary support to grieving individuals and families. Society plays a significant role in facilitating access to after-death counselling and creating an environment that supports bereaved individuals and families. By raising awareness, destigmatizing grief, promoting cultural sensitivity, providing community support, and advocating for policies, society can contribute to the overall well-being and healing of those experiencing loss.

(The author is a rehabilitation professional and a freelance writer based in Satna, Madhya Pradesh. He can be reached at [email protected])